3 years ago
January 5, 2015

5 Reasons Great Sales People Get Fired

The following five reasons why a great sales person who was previously fired may still be a great candidate.

Rhys Metler

In a corporate culture where no one individual is irreplaceable, great sales people are occasionally fired from their positions. Setting aside termination for cause due to legal or ethical issues, there are several reasons why a great sales person who was previously fired may still be a great candidate for an open position with your organization. These five reasons for firing great sales people do little to harm a strong sales person’s candidacy; on paper the separation may look justifiable, but when all angles are considered the great sales person who loses a position in these circumstances is still a great sales person that an organization let go to its own detriment.

Reason #1 Why Great Sales People Get Fired: A Drop in Numbers Due to External Circumstances

Sales managers expect a certain level of fluctuation in the numbers of their reports. However when numbers drop dramatically the first instinct some sales managers have is to look for a scapegoat, and since great sales people sell more their numbers have further to fall. Inaccurate or poorly based assessments combined with drops in sales due to external circumstances, such as unplanned product obsolescence due to new introductions from a competitor, can lead to great sales people getting fired.

Reason #2 Why Great Sales People Get Fired: Looking for Another Position

Sales people at all skill levels are at risk of termination if it becomes known that they are looking for another position. Although it may be an incorrect assumption, many managers do assume that a sales person who is looking for employment with other organizations is not committed to making sales and may be a confidentiality risk for the organization. Great sales people are not immune to these assumptions, and may be at higher risk of losing their position due to the deeper contacts and knowledge these individuals tend to have.

Reason #3 Why Great Sales People Get Fired: Lack of Seniority

Although the sales department is generally the last place an organization wants to look to trim its budget, crisis situations sometimes demand that the sales department streamline its operating costs by letting go of sales people. Organizations that handle lay offs and terminations based on last in, first out rather than on merit tend to lose great sales people in this process. In this scenario, a sales person cannot be faulted for losing his or her position as the circumstances are out of the individual’s control.

Reason #4 Why Great Sales People Get Fired: Unrealistic Objectives Set by an Organization

Failure to meet objectives is one of the most frequent causes for firing sales people, and that includes great sales people as well as average and underperformers. While common wisdom may suggest that a great sales person should be able to meet audacious goals, if those goals are simply too far reaching or if those goals lay far outside of a sales person’s experience and core skills, even great sales people may falter, which may lead to a great sales person’s termination.

Reason #5 Why Great Sales People Get Fired: Conflicts with Management

Conflicts between great sales people and management have many root causes, but one that is all too common occurs when a sales manager or executive feels his or her position is threatened by a top sales person. When positions can be eliminated without stated cause, this is too frequently a reason for letting go of a great sales person. This shortchanges not only great sales people but the organizations for which they formerly worked, all due to a short-sighted view of the future.

In any of these cases, another organization’s loss may be your organization’s gain when great sales people become available to work for you. The key to ensuring that a recently terminated candidate is the right choice lies in thoroughly checking his or her background and exploring the reasons for the separation with an open mind.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.